INBOUND: this buzzword has been steadily increasing in search engine searchability. But what exactly does ‘Inbound Marketing’ mean and who is it relevant to? Let me break it down for you in five points:
1. It’s a framework for Digital Marketing
Inbound Marketing is not just a philosophy; rather, it’s a well-documented methodology and approach to Digital Marketing. It is a closed-loop marketing strategy that aims to attract consumers through channels such as blogs, social media and search engines.
The framework consists of 4 key stages: attracting visitors, converting these visitors to leads, closing them as customers, and delighting them enough to turn them into promoters and advocates of your brand.
2. Pull > Push
This is different from traditional marketing strategies because is it NOT interruptive. Inbound does not advocate buying paid ads, email lists, or over-relying on sales people to make the conversion. Rather, it focuses on understanding the real needs of your ideal customer first and then helping them solve problems through digital content such as blogs, social media, etc. Inbound forces the content producer to deliver content in a useful, relevant, and easy-to-understand manner.
Naturally, good content gets shared, and that increases your visibility on search engines and traffic to your webpage. In other words, it becomes high quality earned media that has great lifetime value.
3. It's about Empathy
So, how do you create content that is useful and relevant? Start by putting yourself in your consumer’s shoes. It may seem easier said than done, but at AKÏN, we've come to realise that empathy is the key to truly connecting with your consumers, and the innate desire of your team to understand their painpoints. With empathy, we start not by asking “What kind of content will help me sell more?”, but rather, “What kind of content will help my consumer in making better decisions?” or “What kind of content will be more valuable at their current lifecycle stage?”
Empathy helps to focus on genuinely wanting to solve their problems - not just hit your monthly sales target.
4. It's about the tools as much as it is about content
Good content creates a strong foundation for an inbound marketing strategy, but what powers the engine is your tool or software of choice. There are many available inbound marketing and marketing automation tools with a myriad of functions. Choose one that can integrate well with your existing CRM and sales tool.
Remember that your integrated marketing is only as good as your team’s proficiency in using the software or tool. Make sure all your workflows are up and running well. This allows for the accurate collection of data for the marketing and sales team.
5. It's not just for marketers; but also copywriters, developers, sales people and business managers
Executing a successful inbound marketing strategy is big commitment that requires a lot of planning and stamina. Regardless of the end business goal, inbound marketing needs a full buy-in not just from marketers, but also the sales team and the upper management. Staff would need to be trained and well-versed in best inbound practices as everyone will have to share the same contact records, customer data, documents, dashboards, and pipelines in one place.
Aside from setting clear and measurable business goals, it's also important to have a realistic assessment of your time and in-house resources before embarking on any inbound marketing project.
It takes about 100 to 250 hours worth of work each month to follow through with an Inbound Marketing initiative. Whether you decide to commit these resources in-house or to an external agency, it helps to identify your target audiences first and then evaluate whether Inbound marketing will truly add value to them.
Check out some of our free templates on how to identify your Target Audiences here.